Skip to main content

Battlefield 3 breaks GDC: play impressions, shots, video

EA DICE finally lifted the lid on Battlefield 3 gameplay at GDC today, showing a military shooter causing earthquakes in more ways than one.

Battlefield 3's Patrick Bach took to the GDC stage today to announce PC as the game's its lead platform, using it to demo part of the single-player campaign. PC gamers will no doubt be very happy right now.

Focus on PC aside, though, DICE's flagship franchise has come a long way since it first burst onto the scene in 2002 with Battlefield 1942, transforming from an IP put on a pedestal by PC shooter fanatics into the modern multiplatform title that is Battlefield 3.

Watching the demo in San Francisco this evening, running on the fresh Frostbite 2 engine, it's obvious what DICE is planning behind the scenes with BF3 - to knock Call of Duty off its perch.

"DICE stands for three core values," said DICE GM Karl-Magnus Troedsson. "Quailty, innovation, and fun or joy, whatever you want to call it. Whatever we do when it comes to games, or movies or anything having to do with our products - we want quality. We always want to try to surpass what we did last time.

"Innovation comes in many different forms, it can be specifically new features or new genres, but it is always something we feel strongly about. We want to continue to innovate in whatever we do. We can't just release another title year after year after year. We want to challenge ourselves to go further, and then beyond that.

The rendering in the game is phenomenal.

"And of course - fun. We are making entertainment, and hopefully everyone agrees, we need to have fun at work because if we don't - you won't have fun playing the game.

"We also pride ourselves by being at the forefront when it comes to new technology. So today we are going to show you guys the Frostbite 2 engine, which is a big evolution and a step forward in the advancement of Battlefield games. We also pride ourselves at being at the forefront of emerging technology as well as new distribution methods and ways to consume games."


The game's demo took place near the Iraq and Iran border, with the player and the rest of a team of marines being shaken shaken by earthquake tremors.

The rendering in the game is phenomenal. The way the light plays off the debris in the streets and alleyways, the destroyed market, even the way the sunlight trickles through smoke billowing off a burning truck looks a step beyond anything we've seen in the genre before.

The soldier animation seemed fluid. The uncanny valley in the facial graphics was not as uncanny as some, and the detail on the weapons is, well, highly detailed. You could see the nicks in the metal, even.

When the demo's shooting started, the player was met with waves of different enemies, and was forced a machine gun and try to take out snipers across the street in a hotel. The team decided, as the player was crawling around the top of a building, that trying to snipe the sniper was pointless - a nearby rocket launcher was preferred to take on the job.

When shooting at enemies, minor destruction is caused. When you shoot a concrete wall in front of an enemy, it crumbles away enough for you to get a clear shot. Major destruction is caused when the player used said rocket launcher on a hotel to rid himself of a sniper, and a hole the size of Tehran appeared. The large hotel sign crashed down, and glass shards from the building went everywhere.

Watch on YouTube

EA how now released an incredible gameplay
video of the demo described here. This is
apparently taken from a pre-alpha build.

When finished with shooting soldiers behind cars on the streets, or taking out snipers in a hotel with rocket launchers, the player was then tasked with following a red wire which led into a nearby building. Of course, the red wire is attached to something ready to go boom and ruin your day, so he had to follow it and disarm the bomb.

To get to the room with the explosive, he had to go through the building's air duct system, and in it saw rats and felt more earthquake tremors, which caused dust to fly.

A local tried to stop the bomb disposer as he entered the room. This is when a QTE started. The screen provided the player with prompts to help take out the attacker in hand-to-hand combat,. Left mouse click does this, right mouse click does that.

"It's taken us a bit of a while to actually do a sequel to Battlefield 2," said Troedsson. "It was released in 2005, and when it actually came out we thought we'd try to take online a couple of big steps forward. We plan to do that with Battlefield 3 as well. Not only with the online, but the core and the single-player. It is all about creating that full, blockbuster value that is so important when releasing a big title like this.

"We also want to create fuller, more immersive and physical experiences, and in order to do that we felt it was again necessary to upgrade the engine. We did this with Bad Company with Frostbite 1, and now again with BF3 and Frostbite 2."

Patrick Bach, executive producer, BF3 said that the reason DICE created a newer version of the Frostbite engine was so the team could build the BF game that they had always dreamed of.

"DICE stands for three core values," said DICE GM Karl-Magnus Troedsson. "Quailty, innovation, and fun."

The engine allowed them to use a new animation system seen in the FIFA games called ANT, which stands for Animation Toolkit. It is also present in Crysis 2, and it allows the engine to produce raw animations, like dragging your wounded marine buddy into cover in a realistic manner.

Also, with the new Frostbite 2 engine, the team was able to take destruction to a whole new level - it plays a huge part in BF3, on both the smaller and larger ends of the scale.

Destruction was going on all around the marines in the demo shown, but it really came into play in the demo during another scripted task. A marine was ordered to shoot a turret at enemies, but just as he got settled into the back of an armed vehicle, the earthquake hit full force and buildings came crashing down. The ground opened wide and got pushed upward, and just all sorts of general hell broke loose as the city started to crumble around marines and insurgents alike.

EA has been wanting to steal the FPS genre away from Activision for quite some time. BF3 looks like the publisher may finally have a fighting chance.

Battlefield 3 releases for PC, PS3 and 360 in late 2011.

Read this next